Bear Attack… 2011

Confrontation with Bears & Cougars

A Question from Europe…


J’ai lu avec attention tous vos conseils en cas de rencontre avec un ours et un couguar. Je pars avec mon mari et ma fille (18ans) dans le Montana fin juillet.

J’aurais aimé faire quelques petites randonnées dans le parc du grand glacier (Avalanche Lake, Iceberg Lake, Hidden Lake et peut être Grinnel Lake.

Savez-vous s’il y a des ours dans ces endroits ? j’ai très peur d’en rencontrer un lorsque nous serons à pied sur les chemins … J’ai lu les différentes attaques que vous décrivez sur votre site. Ca n’a fait que confirmer mes craintes.

Vend-on du spray à poivre à l’entrée du parc ? Je compte n’emporter qu’un morceau de pain pour manger à midi de manière à ce que l’odeur d’un bon pique-nique mis dans nos sacs à dos n’attire pas ces doux animaux, si magnifiques , mais que je préfère admirer de ma voiture qu’à pied.

Pour la nuit, on dort à l’hôtel donc pas de souci. Trouvez-vous que ce soit risqué de partir à 3 faire ces randonnées ?

Ensuite, nous irons dans le parc Yellowstone pour admirer Old Faithfull, West thumb, Midway Geyser Basin et Lamar Valley.

Ces endroits sont-ils dangereux ? Risque-t-on d’y rencontrer des ours ?

Merci beaucoup
Bonne journée


Let’s face it, bears and cougars can kill you.

Look, bears in the wilderness are not cute; they are not cuddly; they are not tame; they are not friendly. They are ALWAYS potentially very dangerous, lethally powerful killing machines. They have killed men, women, and children. They have grievously wounded or maimed hundreds of people.

Which is why you MUST ALWAYS treat them with RESPECT and DISTANCE regardless of how tame you think they appear to you.

And if you’re planning on taking your family on wilderness outings this summer you should know the basics so you don’t become roadkill on your vacation.

When you leave the city – your environment – and go hiking in bear country – their environment – you have to play by their rules, if you want to avoid endangering yourself, and family members, and having a possibly deadly encounter.

Before going on a wilderness outing in bear country like Yellowstone or Glacier National Parks, ask park naturalists for advice on:
– areas of the park to avoid where there are bear concentrations
– recommended behaviour locally, to avoid bear encounters
– recommended behaviour locally, if you encounter a bear
– where to buy bear repellent, and when and how to use it
– special precautions about taking kids into “bear country”

Avoid Bear Encounter Situations. In bear country you must avoid:
– confronting a bear
– surprising a bear
– scaring a bear
– angering a bear
– cornering a bear – not giving a bear a chance to avoid you or leave your presence
– confusing a bear into thinking you are a threat, or a desirable food item

Avoid areas where personally dangerous bear encounters are likely to happen:
– bear “jams” on highways, where dumb tourists have dangerously gotten out of their cars and are clumping to photograph or feed a wild bear at close quarters
– if you see bear cubs
– places you see bear scats, scratches on bark, rooting signs, denning sites
– berry patches where bears might be feeding
– dense areas of bushes where you can’t see
– going suddenly over or around rises, ridges, or hills in terrain, where you might surprise a bear

– never hike alone; it’s always a risk on many levels; always go in groups
– avoid terrain where you cannot see ahead, or to left and right, terrain which might hide a bear
– make noise – ring bells, sing, play harmonica – as you enter areas which might hide bears, so they can hear you and can make their escape

When you camp keep food preparation and cooking sites, and dish washing locations, well away and completely separate, from sleeping or tent locations.

Don’t confuse the bear by contaminating yourself, your clothes, your gear, your sleeping bag and tent, with food stains and smells so the bear cannot differentiate between you, the fish smell in your tent, the peanut tin or granola bar in your backpack, the candy bar in your pocket, or the cooking smears on your pants or shirt.

Don’t smear or dribble food on your clothes when you eat, and then wear them inside your sleeping bag or tent. Unless you want to become bait.

Eating in a tent, or keeping midnight snacks there, within easy reach, is a very bad and dangerous practice. Many people have had their sleeping bags, or tents ripped apart, at night, by bears clawing to investigate the food smells inside.

We’ve seen a bear rip apart a tent where four burly lumber jack types were sleeping, to get at the plastic containers of sweet smelling sherry they had stashed there. To save their lives they abandoned tent, liquor, and belongings and sought refuge for the night on an island.

By contaminating yourself, your clothes, your gear, and your tent, with food smells and stains, you confuse the bear who’s only after food that you, in your escape attempts, seem to be competition for getting. A competition you can never win.

We’ve seen a black bear attack people who went back to retrieve their backpacks – containing candy bars – after portaging their canoe. Four men charging the bear only resulted in a fearsome counter charge, leaving the bear to claw apart the pack, as canoeists retreated to a safe distance, to watch the destruction. It could have been their faces…

Keep your food in separate packs from the clothes you take into your sleeping bag or tent.

Every night, suspend all the food packs, and food contaminated clothing, from a limb in a tree, well away from your sleeping area, so a bear cannot get it.

Remember, bears can climb trees, so make sure the pack is hanging well clear of the trunk.

You can’t be too careful. We’ve seen a bear rip into our pack to get at a peanut tin which held our matches. Apparently we had not washed it well enough at home. The bear was drawn by the residual smell of peanuts, and was completely confused as it ripped apart our pack, the tin, and scattered the matches, looking for tasty peanuts.

The Surprised Bear
If you do, suddenly, encounter a surprised bear who is just hanging about:
– do not panic; he or she is just as surprised and worried as you are
– SLOWLY BACK AWAY from the bear; do not turn your back until you are far apart
– DO NOT EVER MAKE EYE CONTACT with the bear – eyes are aggressive and could provoke alarm and attack – look at the situation out of the corner of your eye
– if a surprised bear charges you
– climb a tree for safety
– if you cannot find a tree, play dead, curl up and cover head and face, and keep very still, even if it nuzzles you, trying to sniff you to make sure you are no longer a threat
– the surprised bear, seeing the threat gone or immobilized, will quickly escape

 The Hunting Bear
If you encounter an aggressive bear hunting for food, and you seem to be it:
– DO NOT PLAY DEAD. He’ll eat you.
– Fight him off with bear repellent, a knife, a rock, whatever you have, to save your life.
– Scream and yell and give it all you’ve got.
– Climb a tree.


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